Oldest Stilt village in Europe. Nikolas Linke, University of Bern, EXPLO Project.

At 8,000 years old, this is probably the oldest stilt village in Europe

Researchers uncover a village nearly 8,000 years old, challenging previous records and reshaping our understanding of ancient settlements.


In a monumental find, the remains of an ancient village, poised atop stilts over a Balkan lake, are capturing the attention of archaeologists. Preliminary evaluations by experts hint that this settlement could be Europe’s oldest of its kind, as reported by Live Science’s Tom Metcalfe.

“This discovery appears to predate other known Mediterranean and Alpine lake-dwelling sites by several centuries,” shared Albert Hafner, the excavation lead and a scholar from Switzerland’s University of Bern, in a discussion with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Diving Into the Past

While probing the vicinity of Lake Ohrid near Lin, Albania, the research team chanced upon the village’s submerged remnants. They unearthed hundreds of tree-trunk stilts, believed to be foundational pillars for ancient structures, and thousands of wooden spikes, which might have been defensive installations against adversaries.

The original purpose of the settlement, whether to float over marshlands or deeper waters, remains a mystery. Currently, layers of silt conceal most of the underwater remains, requiring archaeologists to dive deep for sampling.


Close examinations of nearby wooden bases suggest the village’s origin around 5800 to 5900 B.C.E. Upcoming radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology will pinpoint the exact age.

Hafner noted the regional settlements’ astonishing antiquity during his conversation with Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

Life in Ancient Times

Estimations indicate a thriving community of 200 to 500 residents in this lakeside settlement, as reported by AFP. Excavations reveal traces of bones, seeds, and plants, painting a picture of inhabitants practicing agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting, and foraging.

“Their existence revolved around a relentless quest for sustenance,” Hafner expressed to FDFA. A diverse lifestyle emerged, amalgamating farming, hunting, and gathering for optimal survival.

The curious choice of erecting stilted villages intrigues scholars. Theories suggest benefits like convenient canoe navigation and enhanced defense against potential threats, as referenced by Live Science. Building such elaborate settlements, with defensive measures, demanded immense dedication.


“To create such defenses, they would’ve essentially had to clear a forest,” emphasized Hafner in his conversation with AFP.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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